Juha Kankkunen

Nationality:Finnish Date of Birth:02 Apr 59 FIA Championship Titles:1986, 1987, 1991, 1993 World Championships:4 WRC Rally Starts:162 WRC Rally Wins:23 The first four-time World Rally Champion, Juha Kankkunen won 23 rallies in a distinguished 23 year WRC career which included a variety of cars and teams. Born in Finland in 1959, Kankkunen grew up in Laukaa, close to Jyvaskyla, the home town of the 1000 Lakes Rally - the event on which he made his competitive debut in 1979. Early in his career Kankkunen was mentored by Finnish WRC star, Timo Makinen, a friend of his fathers and someone who tested in Laukaa every year before the 1000 Lakes. With Makinen’s guidance, and financial backing from renowned Finnish talent scout Timo Jouhki, Kankkunen had the perfect chance to learn his craft. His performance on two WRC rallies in 1982 persuaded Toyota Finland to lend him an ex Bjorn Waldegard Group 4 rally car for a number of Finnish events, and his continued success led to a works team entry in a Celica TCT at the 1983 1000 Lakes. He finished sixth, and began a two-year association with Toyota, during which he won his first rally, the 1985 Safari, in the Celica. A move to Peugeot followed in 1986 and, after a dominant season in the Group B 205 Turbo 16 E2, he became Drivers’ Champion. The following year he moved to Lancia and successfully defended his title, taking victory this time with the Group A Delta HF 4WD. Kankkunen moved to Toyota Team Europe in 1988, winning with the Celica GT-Four in 1989, before returning to Lancia in 1990 and helping the Italian company to a third successive manufacturers’ title. The next year was Kankkunen’s most successful with Lancia, and with the Delta Integrale 16V he became the first man to win three Drivers’ championships. Following Lancia’s withdrawal from the WRC, Kankkunen returned to Toyota in 1993 and crushed the opposition in his Celica Turbo 4WD, securing an unprecedented fourth Drivers’ title and becoming the most successful driver in the history of the WRC. A fter leaving Toyota after the end of the 1996 season Kankkunen proved a consistent points scorer for the Ford, Subaru and Hyundai factory teams. Fittingly, his last WRC win before retirement came at home, on the 1999 Rally Finland. Kankkunen's first year with the Subaru World Rally Team and the Subaru Impreza WRC led to victories in Argentina and Finland. In Argentina, he took his first win in over five years, overtaking teammate Richard Burns on the last stage to win by a mere 2.4 seconds. Kankkunen was prepared to accept a team order in the form of a deliberate 10-second time penalty, but with the TV cameras filming, Subaru team principal David Richards stated that there would be no team orders. In his home event, Kankkunen beat Burns to what would be his final victory in the WRC. Despite a one-two for Subaru again at the season-ending RAC, Subaru lost the manufacturers' crown to Toyota by four points. For the third year in a row, Kankkunen placed fourth in the drivers' championship, while Mäkinen equalled Kankkunen's record of four titles. Kankkunen's 2000 season was a disappointment. His best result was second in the Safari Rally behind Burns. With only two other podium finishes to his name, Kankkunen placed eighth in the drivers' standings. Subaru and Kankkunen did not reach a deal for 2001, and Kankkunen ended up competing in only one world rally during the season, the Rally Finland for the Hyundai factory team. He retired after his Accent WRC incurred several technical problems. For the 2002 season, Hyundai initially offered Kankkunen a full 14-event programme, which did not interest him, and the deal was modified to include only the nine gravel rallies. Despite a new evolution of the Accent WRC, Hyundai were unable to challenge the top teams: Peugeot, Ford and Subaru. Kankkunen's fifth place in the Rally New Zealand was the team's best result of the season. However, Kankkunen and the team's full-time drivers Freddy Loix and Armin Schwarz did narrowly give Hyundai its career-best fourth place in the manufacturers' world championship. Kankkunen retired from the WRC after the season. Following his retirement, Kankkunen announced his intention to enter politics, echoing the career path of rallying compatriot Ari Vatanen. In 2004, he ran for the European Parliament as a candidate of the conservative National Coalition Party. While Vatanen was re-elected, Kankkunen's 17,815 votes were not enough to gain a seat. Kankkunen, a Flying Finn himself, was one of the shareholders in the now-bankrupt Flying Finn airline, the first low cost airline in Finland. The company's first airplane was named after him. Kankkunen, along with former NHL star Jari Kurri, has also been a shareholder in a company that builds luxury real estate in Ruka, Finland. In early 2007, Kankkunen set a new world speed record on ice in his privately owned Bentley Continental GT on the frozen Gulf of Bothnia near Oulu, Finland. He averaged 321.65 km/h (199.86 mph) in both directions on the "flying kilometer", reaching a maximum speed of 331 km/h (206 mph). Previously the record was 296.34 km/h (184 mph) held by a Bugatti EB110 Supersport.] The Bentley was largely standard except a rollcage, some aerodynamic improvements and low-temperature fuel and calibration. Tires were from Nokian Tyres with spikes. Technical support was provided by Nokian and Bentley Motors. It was announced on 23 July 2010 that Kankkunen would take part in the the 2010 Rally Finland to mark the sixtieth jubilee of the event. He was joined by his long-time co-driver Juha Repo driving a Ford Focus WRC for the Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team. At just over 51 years old, Kankkunen finished an impressive 8th, beating many WRC regulars.